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T he Baroque: 1600-1750. The Age of Musical Extravagance and Control. Early Baroque Composers (1600-1700). Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) wrote sacred works, madrigals, and opera. We will study his opera The Coronation of Poppea later in our opera unit. He exemplifies emotion in vocal music.

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T he baroque 1600 1750

The Baroque: 1600-1750

The Age of Musical Extravagance and Control

Early baroque composers 1600 1700
Early Baroque Composers (1600-1700)

  • Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) wrote sacred works, madrigals, and opera. We will study his opera The Coronation of Poppealater in our opera unit. He exemplifies emotion in vocal music.

  • Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1555-1612). His works for double choirs, spaced at opposite sides of St. Mark’s Cathedral (in Venice), gave remarkable echo effects. He exemplifies Baroque grandeur

Baroque composers you may already recognize
Baroque Composers you may already recognize:

  • Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

  • Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759)

    These composers are from the late Baroque period, 1700-1750.

The role of the baroque composer
The role of the Baroque composer

  • Baroque composers as practical craftsmen, not as artists “with a calling”

  • Music as functional, not as art object

  • The composer as an artisan with a job

3 main venues for composers
3 main venues for composers:

  • The Church: composers wrote and performed their own service music for services and ceremonies.

  • The court

  • The Opera house: those attached to courts, and public opera houses.

What distinguishes baroque music from music of the renaissance
What distinguishes Baroque music from music of the Renaissance?

  • Rhythm and meter become more definite, a direct link from Renaissance dance music. Barlines are used for the first time. Meter is now emphasized. Think of Palestrina’s Gloria from the Pope Marcellus Mass and its “floating” Renaissance rhythms.

  • The Basso Continuo (see next slide) provides harmonic foundation and bass line.

  • Functional harmony is important. The chord progression—a succession of chords moving forward in a purposeful way—is a new development. Each chord in a key has a role and hierarchy in the chord progression in relation to the tonic note and chord.

The basso continuo
The (Basso) Continuo Renaissance?

  • Keyboard, often harpsichord, sometimes organ or lute, plays a bass line, a melody line, and improvises chords from a figured bass, similar to the way a jazz or pop musician uses a fakebook.

  • The bass line is played by a low instrument, often cello or a low wind instrument.

New baroque music forms
New Baroque Music Forms Renaissance?

  • Opera (we will study this in Week 7)

  • Fugue: the imitative polyphony of the Middle Ages and Renaissance develops into a systematic form with a subject which recurs in other voices.

  • The concerto and concerto grosso(slide 14)

  • Theme and variations (ex. Bach’s Goldberg Var.). See ground bass on next slide.

New baroque musical forms cont
New Baroque Musical Forms, cont. Renaissance?

  • Ground bass: ostinato, a repeating pattern in the bass which has a changing melody over top of it and harmonies which follow the bass.

  • Cantata: a moderate-length work for voices and instruments. Bach wrote cantatas.

  • Oratorio: essentially an unstaged opera with Biblical subject matter for the story. Handel’s Messiah is an oratorio.

Johann sebastian bach 1685 1750
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Renaissance?

  • Church musician

  • Court musician

    Ex. 1.) Goldberg Variation 1 (1955 and 1981) on my

    faculty webpage

    Ex. 2.) The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Prelude in C Major, on the 3-CD set bundled with your textbook, or on the 6-CD set on reserve in WCC library.

    Ex. 3.) The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Fugue in C Major, on the 3-CD set bundled with your textbook, or on the 6-CD set on reserve in WCC library.

The fugue
The Fugue Renaissance?

Definition (Kerman p. 131): “a polyphonic composition for a fixed number of instrumental lines or voices [4 or more], built upon a single principal theme.”

Subject: The principal theme of a fugue.

Countersubject: a second, complementary subject.

Exposition: When the subject is first presented successively in all voices.

Episode: Passages of music between the exposition and subsequent subject entries (restatements of the subject).

Typical fugue form short
Typical Fugue Form (short) Renaissance?

Exposition (subject; subj.; subj.; subj.), tonic key


Subject entry, another key


Subject entry, yet another key

Longer Episode

Subject entry, return to the tonic key

Why is bach s wtc fugue no 1 in c major unusual
Why is Bach’s Renaissance?WTC Fugue No. 1 in C Major unusual?

  • There are no episodes.

  • The subject keeps recurring in a very concentrated, condensed manner.

  • There is no countersubject.

  • Not unusual, but worth noticing: the use of stretto, or overlapping subject entries. The subject entries seem to interrupt one another.

The baroque concerto
The Baroque Concerto Renaissance?

  • The entire orchestra, versus solos by a soloist (concerto) or solo group (concerto grosso)

  • This dramatic change from full group to single performer or small group results in terraced dynamics: abrupt shifts from loud to soft.

  • The full orchestra has returning refrain sections, known as ritornello. The form is named for these sections: ritornello form.

Ritornello form
Ritornello Form Renaissance?

Ritornello (see p. 123 Kerman)

Solo 1

Ritornello (some or all when it returns)

Solo 2


Solo 3


Solo cadenza in here somewhere; displays virtuosity

etc….alternates solos with Rit.; ends with Rit.

Late baroque style features
Late Baroque style features Renaissance?

  • Energetic rhythm

  • Functional harmony

  • Terraced dynamics

  • Complex melodies; ornamentation added

  • Basic Baroque orchestra: mostly strings--violins violas, cellos, basses—and continuo

  • Festive Baroque orchestra: see above, plus 2 oboes, 1 bassoon, 3 trumpets, and 2 timpani.